Friday, February 28, 2014

Philosophy and why science "progresses"

James Chastek at Just Thomism:

From Van Inwagen’s critique of Colin McGinn (ht
Here are some things we understand, at least pretty well: planetary orbits, cell division, rainbows, electrical conductivity. Here are some things we don’t understand at all: conscious awareness, knowledge, free will, understanding things. That is, we are, as a species, pretty good at mathematics and science and no good at all at philosophy. Why is this?
Van Inwagen must have realized the irony in his position: we can claim to understand things but not the very understanding by which we do so. We know all sorts of things, except for the small detail that we don’t know what it means to know. This is fine as an observation of fact, but it also seems to point to the futility of trying to separate “science” from “philosophy” and claim the first is successful whereas the second is a failure. All “science” is on this account is a doctrine that grounds itself on naive, operationalist principles and which tries to explain as much as it can on this unexamined and provisional basis. We are pretty good at explaining the causes of rainbows, so long as we don’t ask what we mean by “cause” (!); we have a total theory of the universe, but are totally confused about what theories are. For that matter, our account of the “universe” cannot determine whether it is all things or not (since whatever we mean by universe appears to allow for the possibility of a multiverse). Even if we had a theory of everything, it would only be a something-or-other about something-or-other. It might be a “better” something or other than the one it replaces, and it would certainly give us more power to do stuff, but any ultimate certitude we might feel in pondering it would be an illusion we created by forgetting the naive foundations that it rests on. We think we have certitude, when all we have is the consensus of the forgetful. 
The success of science rests on forgetfulness, i.e. a group of people agrees to shelve the discussion of the basis of things and work on something else. Philosophy refuses to do this, but the cost of doing so is lack of consensus and therefore of progress.

Science "progresses" because it takes as it's task the easier stuff-- the measurement and prediction of limited aspects of the natural world. That is not to say that science is easy. Hardly. But by its nature science takes on that which is tractable.

The tougher problem raised by the question "how can we know the mass of Jupiter?" is not "what is the mass of Jupiter?" but "what is it to know?" Philosophy doesn't shirk the profound questions. The easier disciplines of philosophy-- natural philosophy for example-- calve off when they make progress with the tractable questions.

Philosophy retains the disciplines-- metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of science for example-- that are not easy, yet are themselves the basis for science.

Science progresses because it has absconded with the tractable questions. That's fine, but it's no reason to denigrate philosophical disciplines that didn't take the easy road and continue to struggle with the more profound questions.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gay fascism is the new Jim Crow

One of the tropes making the rounds about the proposed Arizona statute that would protect Christians from being forced to violate their faith is that the law is a 'new Jim Crow' aimed against gays.

Actually, the opposite is true.

Jim Crow was not private bigotry or private discrimination. Jim Crow was government social engineering. It was a system of law that dictated a spectrum of private interactions based on group identity. It was an effort on the part of a faction in power to use legal force to impose a certain social order. Obviously that order (segregation) would not have happened privately, or Jim Crow would not have been necessary.

The goal of Jim Crow was to drive a disfavored segment of society out of the public square-- to prevent members of the disfavored class from full participation in public life.

The gay and leftist legal lynching of Christian businessmen and women is much closer to historical Jim Crow than any private "discrimination" against gays that a faithful Christian baker or wedding photographer might engage in. The obvious goal of the attacks on faithful Christians who object to participation in ceremonies appropriately deemed sinful by Christian moral standards is to drive serious Christians from the public square.

This new expungement of Christians from the public square-- akin in many ways to the older expungement of blacks from the public square-- is being perpetrated by the same folks who did it early in the 20th century. Jim Crow-- government social engineering based on color or creed-- is a Progressive Democrat program, advanced with the original Jim Crow based on race by our first Progressive Democrat president (Wilson) who segregated the federal government, and now advanced by a new Jim Crow based on creed-- the Christian creed-- in an effort to drive faithful Christians out of public life.

I don't know if it can be stopped. This is a mimetic crisis (Girard) of sorts-- the haters on the left smell blood-- Christian blood-- and they have the press, a load of politicians, the courts, and a host of morons and Christian -haters of all stripes on their side. My prayer is that Christians band together and support our brothers and sisters under persecution, but I don't know if we have enough traction in this cess-pool culture to resist this tide of oppression.

I don't know that many of my Christian brothers and sisters understand just what is happening. This is real persecution, and it is growing with astonishing rapidity. This is the real thing, and it's going to get a lot worse.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Bake me a cake, boy"

Matt K Lewis has a post on the efforts by gay activists to suppress Christians:
When ‘leave us alone’ became ‘bake us a cake!’

This is really a surrogate battle. A much bigger one is coming.

Opponents of these [religious freedom] bills score points when they argue that florists and bakers aren’t exactly granting their imprimatur when they make a cake or put together a flower arrangement for a gay wedding. Additionally, they are correct in assuming that most Christians, whether they agree with same-sex marriage, or not, would still bake the cake. In fact, this could be seen as an example of Christian love.

But this is another example of how this schism cannot be easily brushed aside like so many wedding cake crumbs. In recent years, libertarian-leaning conservatives have largely sided with the gay rights argument. Proud members of the “leave us alone” coalition were apt to side with a group of people who just wanted to be left alone to love the person they love (and what happens in the bedroom is nobody’s business). 
At some point, however, “leave us alone” became “bake us a cake. Or else!” 
And that’s a very different thing, altogether.

The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. (Note: It is entirely possible for someone to believe gay marriage is fine, and to still oppose forcing people who hold strong religious convictions to participate — but I suspect that is where we are heading.)

Think of it this way. If you were a congregant in a church, wouldn’t you expect the pastor to marry you? Why should you be treated different?

Any pastor — if he or she wants to maintain the church’s tax status, that is — had better grapple with this now.

Whether the analogy is fair, or not, refusing to officiate a gay wedding can just as easily be called “denying service.” And it will predictably also be compared to the bad old days of Jim Crow — where racist Christians opposed interracial marriage (until the courts struck down state laws prohibiting biracial marriage).

Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.

We make a mistake to infer that this campaign on the part of gay radicals to impose gay marriage on American society has anything to do with marriage, gay or otherwise. This is about sandblasting Christianity from our society, nothing else. This rather obvious denial of the human rights and right to free exercise of religion is merely a tactic drawn from Alinsky's rule number four:

“The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

They're making us live up to our faith, and this is going to put us in a position where we are forced to deny our faith or suffer persecution. This is not new for Christians. We've been ordered to "sacrifice to the gods or else" before. They've been doing this kind of crap to us for 2000 years.

You have to give the bastards credit for the audacity and guile. It's an old tactic, but it's working remarkably well. 

We should have no illusions about what gay marriage means or about their motives for imposing it on our society. And don't forget that the bastards imposing it on us-- Progressive Democrats-- are the same scum who wrote the Jim Crow laws a century ago.

"Bake me a cake, boy."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jerry Coyne really doesn't understand irony

Jerry Coyne complains about proclivity to violence in Paducah Kentucky:


". . and our God-given right to blow away anybody we dislike. This picture was taken in Kentucky, near Paducah and the Confederate flag I photographed on my recent visit. These signs are in the window of—get this—a flower shop on the town square of Benton, Kentucky, which is, I’m informed, is “infamous around here for the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] openly soliciting donations on the town square not all that long ago.”

I suppose that after you shoot someone, this place provides flowers for the funeral.

The photographer is reader Manolo, who lives in the area and has his own atheist website in Spanish."

Reality check. Jerry Coyne is a liberal Democrat resident of the liberal Democrat city of Chicago. Chicago has a murder rate that is more than twice as high as the murder rate of Paducah Kentucky and it's fair to say that there aren't a lot of Confederate flags in the Windy City. 

What Coyne's silly post serves to show is that liberals are hypocrites regarding violent crime. By far the most violent segment of the American population is liberal Democrats. Crime rates in municipalities governed by the liberal Democrats are multiples higher then crime rates in municipalities governed by conservative Republicans. 

Regarding our "God-given right to blow away anybody we dislike...", I point out that Coyne's reader Manolo, like Coyne himself, has an atheist website. Atheism is a much deadlier ideology than anything Godfull folks have perpetrated-- atheists make Al Qaeda look like Quakers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Public colleges are reminded that an anti-religious discrimination is unconstitutional

From Christian

Christian Legal Group Urges Public Universities to Restore Bibles to Hotel Rooms

A prominent Christian legal organization has sent rebuttal letters to two public universities that recently decided to remove all Gideon Bibles from their hotel rooms in response to complaints from an atheist activist organization.

As previously reported, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University were contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last month after they received anonymous complaints surrounding the Gideon Bibles that are placed in the university hotel rooms.

The organization asserted that the presence of the Bibles at University of Wisconsin’s Lowell Center and Iowa State University’s Memorial Union violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” FFRF also contended that the Bibles signified the promotion of Christianity by a government-0wned university.

“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion,” one letter stated. “Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms constitutes state endorsement and advancement of these Christian publications.”

Both universities responded by advising that they would remove the Bibles from all guest rooms, and Iowa State University said that the copies would be moved to the library beginning in March.

But this week, the Arizona-based Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent letters to both the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University to urge officials to leave the Bibles in place. The letters outlined that FFRF’s reasoning was flawed and not in alignment with legal precedent.

“In reality, the First Amendment does not require you to remove these Bibles, and by removing them, you may have demonstrated the very viewpoint discrimination and hostility towards religion that the First Amendment prohibits,” it wrote. “The Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts have repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials and activities as viewpoint or content discrimination, both at universities and elsewhere.”

“[C]ontrary to what FFRF implied, the Establishment Clause does not require government entities to dissociate themselves from everything religious,” the letters continued. “Indeed, the Supreme Court has repeatedly made it clear that the Constitution does not ‘require complete separation of church and state.’ Rather, it ‘affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.’”


The Alliance Defense Fund is exactly right. Selective removal of Bibles from state-owned hotels is a clear violation of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, which guarantee free exercise of religion and prohibit federal regulation of religious activities. Selective removal of the Bibles is an explicitly anti-religious act that the government is not permitted to undertake. 

Let us hope that litigation arises from this obvious constitutional violation and that these colleges are held to account for this unconstitutional act of state-sanctioned anti-religious bigotry.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ed Brayton: "Apparently, hurting the feelings of the religious is a crime in that county".

Atheists are delightfully innocent, if you don't count the gulags and the genocide. They're innocent of logic, of course, and they're innocent of irony. Atheists lack the sense of the ridiculous in themselves, utterly. Richard Dawkins is the archetypal clueless atheist snob, but all polemic atheists share the blindness. They don't see how funny they are.

Ed Brayton was a stand-up comic, before he took up being wrong as an avocation, and he's still funny, not meaning to be.

To wit:
Another Reason to Love the First Amendment
January 20, 2012 at 9:29 am Ed Brayton
Here’s a very disturbing case out of Poland, where a singer has been fined by the courts for expressing doubt about the validity of the Bible during an interview. Apparently, hurting the feelings of the religious is a crime in that country:
Dorota Rabczewska, a singer who uses the stage name Doda, said in a 2009 interview that she doubted the Bible “because it’s hard to believe in something that was written by someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs.”
A Warsaw court ordered her Monday to pay a fine of 5,000 zlotys ($1,450) for offending religious feelings.
But it seems they make this weird distinction:
The case comes months after another Polish court let off a death metal performer, Adam Darski, who tore a Bible during a 2007 performance. It deemed his act artistic expression.
So if she’d just put her thoughts into a song, that would be legal; saying it in an interview makes it illegal. Bizarre. And wrong either way. [Emphasis mine]
Wait... wait... hot off the presses... A Breaking Story... from the Dissociated Press Newsdesk... Newsflash to Ed:

... Hurting the feelings of the irreligious is a crime in this country, Ed.

There's a veritable atheist industry of "I feel ostracized and excluded".  Across this great land atheist after atheist after atheist turns to swooning litigious gelatin at the sight of a Christmas creche, or a cross on public land, or a prayer in a graduation ceremony or a football game, or a prayer mural on an auditorium wall.

The police are called, attorneys swarm, organizations whose sole mission is to flame allegations of injured godlessness march to courthouses, and grievously harmed atheists take the witness stand in federal court to recount through tears and shaking sobs the exclusion, ostracism, illegitimacy, otherness, disenfranchisement, and whatnot they suffer by the mere glimpse of the creche/cross/prayer/mural.

Shaken judges hit control-v on their Dells and churn out another batshit 'Alice-in-Wonderland' Establishment Clause ruling ('the plantiff suffered irrevocable harm when she heard the prayer... anything atheists don't like is an Establishment of Religion... the Ku Klux Klan initiation oath is a great basis for case law...') , decry the assault on the wall of separation that protects atheists from dissonance, threaten and fine the Godly assailants, and award fat attorney fees and pain and suffering to the sobbing prayer-victim.

The hurt hurts less with the award to the plantiff of a little "In God We Trust", if you get my meaning.

It's a fraud, Ed. You're right about Poland. Censorship sucks.

So why the double standard, Ed? You thoughtfully point out the injustice of religious people dragging irreligious citizens who express their views into court to answer to fake claims of "hurt feelings" of people who are really censors, not victims.

Why not point out the injustice when atheists use the courts to censor?

Oh, right, I forgot. In the U.S. atheists are just "protecting the Constitution", guarding the "constitutional wall of separation between church and state" that no one can seem to find in the actual Constitution, doing it for the benefit of us all, taking one for the team, keeping us free.

No one believes that crap, not even you, Ed. No one is harmed by a creche or a cross or a prayer. People who use courts to censor other people are money-grubbing publicity whores and bigots demanding judicial imprimatur for their hate.

So show some real love for the First Amendment. It's the charter of our freedom. It protects godless speech, even when we Christians don't like it, and it ought to protect Godly speech, even when you atheists don't like it.

And do try to work on getting a clue, Ed. Your befuddled irony is hysterical, and it's a shame that you can't appreciate it and laugh at it as hard as we do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fight back Humanities!

An encouraging sign of life from the College of Humanities at the University of Utah:

Of course, the Humanities are an etiolated husk of what they were-- now more a breeding ground for transvestite lesbian chicano activists than wells of deep Western wisdom.

But scientism is worse, believe it or not.

In the end, it's the difference between Ward Churchill and Joseph Mengele.

HT: Jerry Coyne

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jerry Coyne: "If women gave birth through their stomachs, semen would taste great"

Browsing through old Jerry Coyne posts on his blog (not recommended), I came across this foray into evolutionary science (posted by Coyne on April 18, 2009 at 5:42 am-- this is not a parody):

Evolutionary psychology: the adaptive significance of semen flavor

I have long been critical of many evolutionary psychologists for their over-the-top stories, but today I am forced — albeit briefly — to join their ranks. I have thought of a hypothesis that shares all the salient traits of the best ideas of evolutionary psychology: it is brilliant, makes evolutionary sense, and is untestable. 
It is the conventional wisdom in human sexuality that semen tastes bad.
I didn't know that.
Anyone with minimal sexual experience knows that although many women will perform fellatio on their partners, most bridle at the thought of swallowing the ejaculate.
Nor that.
Its flavor is frequently characterized as revoltingly bitter or salty. The “swallow or spit” dilemma faces any woman who performs such an act, and whose partner regards swallowing as a gesture of love. 
The universal distastefulness of semen is attested by the many internet sites that give advice about how to improve the taste of one’s ejaculate, for example, here, here, and here.
The internet is increasingly being used for science research, especially at 5:42 am.

To get a better scientific handle on this idea, I took a poll, asking a woman friend, Dr. Fawzia Rasheed, to canvass her female acquaintances about their willingness to swallow after the act of fellatio. Twenty-four women were asked this question: 
Sperm…would you spit or swallow? In other words, can you abide by or do you hate the taste?

Doesn't the University of Chicago (Coyne's employer) have a sexual harassment policy?

There were sixteen responses...
and eight lawsuits.

One answer was a non-response (“I should be so lucky”). The other fifteen included eleven “spits” and four “swallows”...

I'll spare you the next paragraph, in which Coyne provides his "results" section.

Coyne concludes that semen tastes bad because it is comprised of things that taste bad.
But this proximate answer will not satisfy the diligent evolutionary psychologist. After all, natural selection could presumably add some sugars or good-tasting stuff to semen if it were advantageous to do so. Why does it not do so?
A moment’s reflection gives the answer.
Evolutionary psychology is waiting in the wings...
Natural selection maintains the repugnant taste of semen so that a man’s sperm will wind up in the appropriate place: the vagina and not the stomach. So long as sperm tastes bad, women will not be tempted to swallow it, but will turn their male partner towards conventional intercourse, which of course is the only act that will produce children. In other words, any male with good-tasting sperm would have fewer offspring than his competitors. A man whose sperm tasted like honey would probably not have any children at all. 
I can think of only two ways to test this hypothesis, both of them impractical or impossible: 
1. If women gave birth through their stomachs, semen would taste great 
2. Those males with genes giving them better-tasting semen will leave fewer offspring than other males. 
This theory is offered as a modest proposal, only partly (excuse me) tongue in cheek. It may even be true. 
Notes added post facto: Although light-hearted, the post is somewhat serious; it’s the kind of interesting speculation that evolutionists indulge in over a few beers. And everything in the post is true, including the survey of women. 
And note to T.R. Gregory: I don’t think this idea is refuted by finding, say, primate species that don’t have oral sex but do have similar compounds in the semen. The whole idea rests on those compounds TASTING BAD to females, and we’d need to know something about the taste reactions of females in these other primates. The evolution, after all, might have been in the female taste receptors rather than in the semen. 
Finally, apologies to readers who find the subject distasteful.

Don't you get the sense at times that Darwinism is less a bizarre scientific mistake than a psychological disorder?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reno on "Our Secular Future"

R.R. Reno has a must read on the redefinition of religious liberty in America.


The Heart of the Conflict 
To be blunt: Religious people who hold traditional values are in the way of what many powerful people want. We are in the way of widespread acceptance of abortion, unrestricted embryonic stem cell research and experimentation with fetal tissue. We are in the way of doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia and the mercy-killing of genetically defective infants. We are in the way of new reproductive technologies, which will become more important as our society makes sex more sterile. We are in the way of gay rights and the redefinition of marriage. We are in the way of the nones and the engaged progressives and their larger goal of deconstructing traditional moral limits so that they can be reconstructed in accord with their vision of the future. 
And Reno could have mentioned that we Christians are in the way of what modern capitalist/market civilization wants-- a shattering of inhibitions that preclude incessant voracious consumption. I am not here advocating a Marxist view or anything like it: I am observing that the forces aligned against Christian praxis go beyond the mere atheists and secularists who have always hated us. There are economic reasons to suppress Christianity, and our economic foes may prove to be our most obdurate. I think that this is a central part of Pope Francis' message.

Traditional religious people are in the way, and many of our fellow Americans are doing their best to push us out of the way. The outspoken among us have been largely expelled from higher education and other institutions of cultural authority. This exclusion should not surprise us. Traditional Christianity and churchgoing no longer define the social consensus in the United States. The Protestant era is over, and in its demise we have not seen the Catholic moment that the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things, hoped for. Instead, we seem to be heading into the secular moment, which is almost certain to find ways to redefine religious liberty, or at least try. 
In Islamic states, a dhimmi is a non-Muslim who is tolerated, but whose social existence is carefully circumscribed to ensure no threat to Muslim dominance. Have we reached the point at which our secular elites envision something similar for religious people with traditional values? We will be free to worship, but not to run universities or hospitals or social service agencies in accord with our principles. We will be free to believe as we wish, but not to run our businesses in accord with our beliefs. We will be permitted to exist as long as we do not openly challenge the progressive consensus.

But, Reno notes, there is more to Christian resistance here than eliding dhimmitude. 

Last summer a young Dominican brother studying for the priesthood served as an intern for First Things. He is an impressive man, one of a remarkable cohort of 20 who entered the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph a few years ago to begin formation. As I walked with him on the streets of New York City, I noticed that people often stare at his white, ankle-length outfit. Unlike the often-wild fashion statements that people parade as great expressions of protest or individuality but blend into the city as just another pose or posture, his simple habit represents something dangerously real. People intuit, however dimly, that he embodies a vision of the future that collides with the spirit of our age, and does so with frightening force. 
Seeing these reactions I was reminded that our faith goes deep, very deep. And as the guardian and servant of this faith the church has tremendous power. As I contemplate the coming battles over religious freedom, I am consoled by this thought: Our secular challengers are right, very right, to see our faith as a dangerous and disruptive dissent.
Please read Reno's whole essay. It's brilliant, and difficult to excerpt without leaving out so much of his insight.

Secularists rightly understand the threat we Christians pose to their hegemony. We know a different world. We live by different standards. We serve Someone else. We are very dangerous to the secularist agenda, and they fight us with a fury and a resolve commensurate to the actual danger we pose to them.   This is going to be a very nasty fight.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Immensely powerful interests honor climate loon for "fighting immensely powerful interests".

The Sophie Award this year-- with a purse of $100,000-- goes to Bill McKibben, founder of As you'll recall, is a global warming fraud organization that collaborated to produce that lovely eco-terrorism video of skeptical children being blown to bits for doubting global warming.

The movie, "No Pressure", would probably have been named differently if it were produced in the wake of the Boston bombings.

So you're wondering-- WTF is "The Sophie Award"? It's a mini-Nobel Prize given annually to climate loons who missed out on the real Nobel Prize, which is (bizarrely) also given to climate loons.

From the citation:
As an activist [McKibben] is pioneering new methods of social protests, using among others Internet-enabled organizing strategies to increase the intensity of political activity. Fighting immensely powerful interests McKibben has shown that mobilization for change is possible. 

"Change" certainly has been possible, except for global temperatures, which haven't changed for seventeen years.  But why should lack of warming trouble warmists, any more than lack of eugenic catastrophe troubled eugenicists, or lack of overpopulation troubled overpopulation loons, or lack of DDT apocalypses troubled DDT apocalyptics.

They just keep giving themselves awards, while the facts all stampede in another direction.

And it's a hoot to tout McKibben for "fighting immensely powerful interests". AGW "research" has been funded to the tune of $100 billion by governments over the past couple of decades, and the AGW gravy train has enriched countless fake businessmen and market manipulators, empowered corrupt government agencies, and lined the pockets of gangster politicians

AGW skeptics, meanwhile, are mostly amateurs with technical backgrounds, get no grants, profit from no "investments", accumulate no power, and simply keep telling the truth.

No prizes for them, unless you prize the truth. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"A vast collection of answers, with no memory of the questions"

Philosopher Ed Feser has a great post on the fallacies of contemporary neuroscience:

We’ve had several occasions... to examine the fallacies committed by those who suppose that contemporary neuroscience has radically altered our understanding of human nature, and even undermined our commonsense conception of ourselves as conscious, rational, freely choosing agents. In a recent Spectator essay, Roger Scruton comments on the fad for neuroscientific pseudo-explanations within the humanities, labeling it “neuroenvy.” 
Here’s an especially insightful passage from the piece:

[Scruton] Neuroenvy… consist[s] of a vast collection of answers, with no memory of the questions. And the answers are encased in neurononsense of the following kind:

‘The brains of social animals are wired to feel pleasure in the exercise of social dispositions such as grooming and co-operation, and to feel pain when shunned, scolded, or excluded. Neurochemicals such as vasopressin and oxytocin mediate pair-bonding, parent-offspring bonding, and probably also bonding to kith and kin…’ (Patricia Churchland).

As though we didn’t know already that people feel pleasure in grooming and co-operating, and as though it adds anything to say that their brains are ‘wired’ to this effect, or that ‘neurochemicals’ might possibly be involved in producing it. This is pseudoscience of the first order, and owes what scant plausibility it possesses to the fact that it simply repeats the matter that it fails to explain. It perfectly illustrates the prevailing academic disorder, which is the loss of questions.
"A vast collection of answers, with no memory of the questions" is a stunningly accurate way to describe the modern fallacy of attributing mental acts to physical brain processes. No one doubts that mental states are associated with brain states. But it is breathtakingly naive to assert that the mental state is "explained" in any meaningful way by the brain state. Regional changes in brain blood flow measured by fMRI scanning don't explain the love (or hate or anger or joy) we feel at the moment the changes are measured.

Thoughts and emotions are mental acts that inherently entail intentionality (reference to something other than self), qualia (the subjective experience of things) that transcend mechanical explanation. Crude materialist reductionism has little real explanatory power.

Modern neuroscience has provided so many answers that we've forgotten the questions. 

Feser suggests the antidote to neuroenvy:

Materialists typically assume that the Cartesian move is what anyone who criticizes their reductionism must be committed to. (See chapter 4 of Aquinas for a detailed account of the differences between the Aristotelian-Thomistic and Cartesian views of human nature.) And so deeply and unreflectively have they imbibed reductionist thinking that they fail to perceive that the arguments that they think provereductionism really only assume reductionism -- begging the question, and none too subtly at that. In particular, they fail to see that the stuff about increased dopamine levels “proves” that addicts lack moral responsibility, or that Libet’s experiments “prove” that we lack free will, only if we already assume that human action is entirely reducible to the neural phenomena in question, which is of course precisely what is at issue. And they would also beg the question were they to insist that categories like formal and final causation are acceptable only if they can somehow be reduced to those recognized by physics, chemistry, biology, or neuroscience.

Meanwhile, critics like Scruton and Raymond Tallis, while they rightly denounce reductionism of both a materialist or Cartesian sort, fail to put in its place a systematic rival metaphysics like the Aristotelian one. Powerful as their criticisms are, their positive account of human nature is bound to seem obscurantist to those who cannot see any plausible alternative to materialism as a general conception of the natural world. For it takes a metaphysics to counter a metaphysics. Until materialism, scientism, and naturalism are not only criticized but replaced with something better, they will not lose the baneful grip on modern culture that Scruton and Tallis rightly deplore.

Materialist reductionism of the mind is a foolish mistake. A rudimentary mistake.

The Aristotelian hylemorphic understanding of the mind is a correction for that mistake, and seems to me to be closest to the truth. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Nation's first black President quietly admits that he only celebrates half of Black History Month

(Dissociated Press) In a rare personal interview, President Obama confided to this reporter his mixed feelings about Black History Month.

The President spoke in the Oval Office for what turned out to be a surprisingly candid and reflective discussion of his feelings about our nation's annual month-long celebration of African-American history.

(DP) Sir, as our nation's first black president, you've taken an active role in speeches and ceremonies that the beginning of Black History Month. But many commentators have noticed that during the second half of the month you seem less involved. How would you respond to that"
"I kinda' thought people might have noticed it. I had hoped they wouldn't."
The President looked pained.
I respect Black History Month and all, but I'm sort of 50-50 about it. Honestly, after two weeks into February my heart really isn't in it anymore."
He as silent for a minute, and continued.
"For the first half of the month, I was really inspired. I went to ceremonies, spoke at colleges, read Fredrick Douglas' speeches and a bio of Oprah in the evenings."
The President paused, as if to consider how much he should tell. His eyes glistened.
"But by the second half of the month, it just doesn't seem relevant to me any more. I'm sorry about the way it sounds. I'm just not into it. Yesterday, Michelle wanted the whole family to dress up like Marcus Garvey. I told her I had some Executive Orders to sign. I didn't really, but my head's just not in it after the first two weeks."
So what then does the President do during the last two weeks?
"Honestly, I just like to sit around on the Oval Office couch for the second half of the month. Last night  I put on a sleeveless tee-shirt and a John Deere cap and snuck out with a couple of Secret Service guys to Walmart, grabbed a six-pack, and we came back and watched WWF and Jerry Springer re-runs. It just felt right to me."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison..."

George Weigel has a reflection on Francis Cardinal George of Chicago:
Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I., the first native Chicagoan to lead what many still regard as the flagship American diocese, is best known, in some circles at least, for proposing the possibility of a very different Catholic future. He sketched it starkly for a group of priests, to illustrate the implications of radical secularization for America: “I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die as a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”
At first glance, Cardinal George's dire prophesy seems misplaced. It's hard to imagine Catholic martyrs in America.

But to deny it is to deny history. Every process of radical secularization has been a martyr-factory. Revolutionary France, Bolshevik Russia, revolutionary Mexico, Republican Spain, Maoist China, the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields, North Korean Juche have all been anti-Christian (particularly anti-Catholic) meat-grinders. Never forget that the Supreme Court justice who authored our modern unconstitutional doctrine of "church-state-separation" began his legal and political career with the enthusiastic defense (on behalf of the KKK) of a man who murdered a Catholic priest in cold blood.

Radical secularism is a bloody process, everywhere and always.

We are getting stirrings of it now, with an increasingly totalitarian twist among mongers of atheism and its eddies-- particularly gay-rights fascism.

We Christians are too accepting of what is happening to our country. Our freedoms will not survive the banishment of our Creator, who is the endower of all of our rights, and without whom no rights or decency can survive. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Something else on which Jerry Coyne and I disagree

Jerry Coyne lists his "worst songs ever". #2 is ... Charlene's "I've never been to me".


It one of my favorite songs ever!

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song: I was driving with my girlfriend to Death Valley along route 395, skirting the spectacular eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada. (That, by the way, is my favorite road in the U.S., at least the stretch from Reno to Lone Pine.) Climbing one of the small hills on that road, we heard this song on the radio. It was so absolutely dreadful, so cloying in its lyrics, that I almost stopped the car in horror. It must have been 1982, for that’s when this musical travesty, by Charlene, was released for the second time.
I'll never forget the first time I heard this song. I was walking in Manhattan with my girlfriend (also circa 1982) and we heard it on the radio. I was mesmerized. I told her it was a beautiful song. She detested it (we broke up few months later, not because of the song).

I love the melody, and the lyrics are profound and countercultural. A woman who had lived her life on the fast side-- sleeping around, chasing glamour and wealth and novelty-- is giving advice to a young mother who feels trapped. She says that what really matters is family and love and commitment, not the "subtle whoring" of the fast life.

Very countercultural. Leagues better than most of the swill the Beatles wrote.

Interestingly, my girlfriend at the time was a bit like the woman in the song-- she craved the fast life and excitement, and she clearly felt the song an affront. I remember thinking to myself at the time "of course she wouldn't like this song."

The last verse:
But you know what truth is?
It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with this morning
The same one you’re going to make love with tonight. That’s truth, that’s love 
Sometimes I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children
That might have made me complete
But I, I took the sweet life and never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet
I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that cost too much to be free 
Hey lady, I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

 A lot of truth. A beautiful melody. I love the song . Coyne and I disagree on so much. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let's ban plutonium gas-injected 0.937 caliber assault carbines with technetium razor-tipped bullets

Frank J. Fleming has a great idea for gun control:

What we can do is pass a law banning a bunch of made-up things that sound scary, and many gun control proponents already have great ideas along this line. For instance, I read a column in which Howard Kurtz mentioned a ban on high-magazine clips — we can certainly do without something that nonsensical. And I’ve heard the press before mention armor-piercing hollow points and plastic guns (actually, I think we already banned that made-up weapon in the ’80s). And as long as the NRA and Wayne LaPierre go apoplectic about it (“This ban on sorcerer-enchanted guns is just a slippery slope toward eliminating all witch-hexed weaponry!”), gun control proponents won’t know the difference between this and actual gun control. And this will help protect our most vulnerable people out there: politicians. Because long after the gun control advocates move on to other things, like who they want to tax next, gun owners will still be annoyed by any actual gun control legislation. One of the greatest fears politicians have is seeing an angry guy with lots of guns charging down the street, because they know he’s probably on his way to commit an act of voting. 
Of course, with this idea, absolutely nothing will be done to keep criminals and madmen from obtaining guns, but that’s the effect of every other gun control law, so we’re just reaching this end in a much cheaper and less messy fashion. Because what are the options if we actually want to do something to make people safer? Let law abiding citizens like teachers carry in schools? That’s just insane. Solving the problem of guns with more guns is just another crazy idea by those people who take that “liberty” idea to dangerous extremes and cause all the other civilized countries to make fun of us. Instead, let’s get to work banning those unicorn horn-tipped bullets and feeling safer.

Let's just ban scary-sounding stuff. Who needs plutonium gas-injected assault carbines anyway? If we ban them, it'll be every bit as effective as the ban on handguns in Chicago and the ban on assault rifles in Connecticut.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Censor of the Year: Jerry Coyne

My friends at the DI have announced the Censor of the Year for 2014: Jerry Coyne. It's well-deserved. Coyne is a nasty piece of work-- he has repeatedly threatened people and advocated legal force to silence people who don't share his Darwinian/atheist/materialist religion.

He's a disgrace to his profession-- he's an educator no less, who sics lawyers and a holocaust-denying anti-religious hate group on people who ask for discussion of critical issues like evolution and religion in the public square.

Congrats, Jerry. But don't feel too bad about it. It was all determined by physics anyway, and no one had any choice to do otherwise. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Terracotta Daughters"

From the Catholic World Report:
From the BBC comes this story about artists who are using their craft to protest China’s notorious one-child policy. It leads with a description of “Terracotta Daughters,” by French artist Prune Nourry, which highlights how Chinese family-planning regulations have resulted in the world’s most uneven sex ratio—117 boys born for every 100 girls: 
In a culture that traditionally favours male offspring, girls have been abandoned, murdered and aborted. (In the year 2000 ninety percent of aborted foetuses were reportedly female.) As such it is estimated that by the end of this decade the country will have a surplus of 24 million bachelors. This has led to fears that there will be a rise in the kidnapping and trafficking of women as brides and, for single men stuck in the impoverished countryside with no hope of marriage, a spike in gambling, depression, and alcohol abuse. 
Eight orphaned Chinese girls were used as models for the 108 sculptures in the exhibition, which references China’s iconic Terra Cotta Warriors
Huiyun started her life in the garbage. As an unwanted baby girl, her parents abandoned her in the poor province where she was born in central China. There, a pair of refuse collectors found her with her umbilical cord still attached. They kept her, bringing her up as their own. 
Huiyun is now 12 years old, and life has taken a turn for the better. This year she became one of eight models featured in provocative French artist Prune Nourry’s new exhibition Terracotta Daughters, now showing in Shanghai’s Gallery Magda Danysz. An exploration of China’s skewed sex ratio, the exhibition dishes up a new version of a national treasure − with a twist. Nourry has fashioned more than one hundred sculptures in the same clay, and using the same techniques, as the ancient Terracotta Warriors, the famous collection of sculptures representing the armies of the first Emperor of China. But instead of producing a brigade of soldiers, the artist has created an army of schoolgirls. They symbolise China’s millions of missing women. 
“I wanted to highlight the girls that are not cared about, by mixing them with a strong familiar symbol [the Terracotta Warriors],” explains New York-based Nourry. “When you change something slightly that everyone knows it creates something bizarre − and people want to know more.” 
For Terracotta Daughters Nourry modeled eight life-size sculptures on eight real orphans. Combinations of these prototypes were then used to make a further 108 sculptures in collaboration with traditional Chinese craftsmen. Funds from the sales of the original eight will pay for three years’ education for each orphan in co-operation with the NGO Children of Madaifu. The artwork is enabling a handful of children like Huiyun, who has dreams of becoming a nurse, to stay in school. 
Nourry is not alone in her exploration through the arts of the consequences of China’s controversial one-child policy. Since it was introduced in 1979 the policy has inspired debate that has consumed the population. In just three decades it has dramatically refashioned Chinese society, affecting an entire generation that has largely grown up without brothers and sisters.
"Huiyun started her life in the garbage..."

Population control and abortion are undistilled evil. We need to hold advocates for these ideologies morally responsible, and where possible, legally responsible. Who in the West championed population control junk science and plainly advocated crimes against humanity? Who advised the Chinese government on population policy? What Western organizations played a role in this genocide?

There will be an eternal accounting in the next life for these unprecedented atrocities. Let's get the moral accounting started a little early.

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Coincidence theorists"

Kyle Smith notes that there are a lot of... coincidences... now that Progressives are in power:

                         Progressives in power looking for payback
A few random news items from around the country: 
Dinesh D’Souza, a prominent conservative filmmaker, was indicted for allegedly violating federal campaign-finance laws. The indictment was “the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States senator in New York,” said a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office. Routine. A Google search for “liberal filmmaker indicted” did not turn up any liberal filmmakers who have been indicted. 
James O’Keefe, a conservative maker of provocative films, said the New York State Department of Labor had taken an intense interest in his shop, Project Veritas, issuing a subpoena and burdensome requests for documents. Days earlier, the Democratic governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, had said “extreme conservatives,” of whom O’Keefe might be considered one, “have no place in the state of New York.” Mayor Bill de Blasio added, “I agree.” Finding common ground with the other two, O’Keefe also agreed and said he was moving his small business to New Jersey. 
Another filmmaker, whose crude anti-Islamist video the Obama administration found convenient to blame for the unrelated deaths of four Americans in a Libyan terrorist attack, was arrested within two weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” The maker of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who used another name on his short film, was charged with violating his probation by using an alias and going online. He spent three-quarters of a year in prison. 
“Friends of Abe,” a group of conservative Hollywood figures that applied for nonprofit 501(c)(3) status, has seen its application held up for two years while IRS officials demand such information as a list of the group’s members, who would prefer their identities not be made public for fear of losing work. Membership lists are not typically required in such cases. Many other right-wing groups have had similar complaints about the IRS; USA Today reported, “IRS gave liberal groups a pass; Tea Party put on hold.” 
All of this is mere coincidence, of course. The conservative British writer Peter Hitchens has a clever phrase for those who those who insist on seeing no connection among events that might appear at a glance to have something in common: These people, says Hitchens, are coincidence theorists.
I like the term "coincidence theorists". It takes a ton of denial to not see what's happening.

Here's a list of ten more coincidences.

The left-- in its Jacobian or Bolshevik or Fascist or Progressive iterations-- has always been about State power-- everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.

Those naifs or useful idiots who see these criminalizations of political difference as mere coincidences or mere Chicago politics writ federal miss the broad truth.

State thuggery is what the left does, and is doing now, in our country. Why would we have ever thought that "these leftists are gonna be different"?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Islamic anti-Christian pogrom

The world's most ancient Christian communities are being destroyed — and no one cares
The Arab Spring, and to a lesser extent the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, were touted as the catalysts for a major historic shift in the region. From Egypt to Syria to Iraq, the Middle East's dictatorships would be succeeded by liberal, democratic regimes. Years later, however, there is very little liberality or democracy to show. Indeed, what these upheavals have bequeathed to history is a baleful, and barely noticed legacy: The near-annihilation of the world's most ancient communities of Christians. 
The persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East, as well as the silence with which it has been met in the West, are the subject of journalist Ed West's Kindle Single "The Silence of Our Friends." The booklet is a brisk and chilling litany of horrors: Discriminatory laws, mass graves, unofficial pogroms, and exile. The persecuted are not just Coptic and Nestorian Christians who have relatively few co-communicants in the West, but Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants as well. 
Throughout the Middle East the pattern is the same. Christians are murdered in mob violence or by militant groups. Their churches are bombed, their shops destroyed, and their homes looted. Laws are passed making them second-class citizens, and the majority of them eventually leave...
In Syria... [i]n June 2013, a cluster of Christian villages was totally destroyed. Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa reported that "of the 4,000 inhabitants of the village of Ghassanieh... no more than 10 people remain." 
Two Syrian bishops have been kidnapped by rebel groups. Militants expelled 90 percent of the Christians in the city of Homs. Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch says that out of a population of 1.75 million, 450,000 Syrian Christians have simply fled their homes in fear.
In Iraq, the story is the same but more dramatic. According to West, between 2004 and 2011 the population of Chaldo-Assyrian Christians fell from over a million to as few as 150,000. In 2006, Isoh Majeed, who advocated the creation of a safe haven for Christians around Nineveh, was murdered in his home. The number of churches in Iraq has declined to just 57, from 300 before the invasion. The decline of Iraq's Christian population since the first Gulf War is roughly 90 percent, with most of the drop occurring since the 2003 invasion. 
The U.S. and the U.K. bear some responsibility in this catastrophe, since they oversaw the creation of Iraq's postwar government and did little to protect minority faiths.
The United States is doing nothing... noting... to protect Christians in the Middle East from this obvious Islamic anti-Christian pogrom. It is a pogrom of extermination-- a systematic removal of Christians by terror and organized murder.

The analogy to Germany and the Jews in the mid 1930's is obvious.

The Arab Spring is a nightmare. It is the rise of brutal Islamist regimes that intend to exterminate Christians and Jews.

The left in America and Europe obviously is fine with this systematic murder, for the self-evident reason that the left is defined (since the 18th century) as a Christianity extermination program. Only the left has killed more Christians than Islam has, and the Religion of Peace seems intent on giving the left a run for its money.

We Christians need to stick together, and we need to speak out emphatically and incessantly on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters. We live in a world ruled by powers and principalities hell-bent on evil, and hell-bent on the destruction of the one thing-- Christ and His Body-- that can, and will, defeat them. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"My Sharia Amour"

Here's Mark Steyn's classic satire on an Islamic beauty contest, occasioned by the Miss World riots in Nigeria in 2002.

I glanced at my watch. "For crying out loud, when are they going to raise the curtain?" 
"They have raised the curtain," said David. "Those are the girls." I peered closer at the shapeless line of cloth, and he was right: there they all were, from Miss Afghanistan to Miss Zionist Entity. 
I sighed. "How long till the swimsuit round?" 
"This is the swimsuit round," said David.
And this ditty:
I bounced out on stage, grabbed the mike and punched the air:

"My Sharia Amour, good enough for some emir
My Sharia Amour, I'm the guy you like to fear" 
The audience seemed wary and an alarming number appeared to be reaching into their robes. But I ploughed on: 
"My Sharia Amour, pretty little girl in your chador
One of only four that I beat sore
How I wish that I had five."

A classic.

Friday, February 7, 2014

"Scientists, run for cover. Now."

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of IPCC
and doyen of climate science

Patrick Michaels has a great post on the profound impact that the global warming hoax is having on the credibility and future of science:

Will The Overselling Of Global Warming Lead To A New Scientific Dark Age?
That day is coming closer, because, as [climate scientist Garth] Paltridge notes, people are catching on: 
“…the average man in the street, a sensible chap who by now can smell the signs of an oversold environmental campaign from miles away, is beginning to suspect that it is politics rather than science which is driving the issue.” 
The scientific establishment has painted itself into a corner over global warming. Paltridge’s explanations for this are depressingly familiar to those who read these columns. 
Science changed dramatically in the 1970s, when the reward structure in the profession began to revolve around the acquisition of massive amounts of taxpayer funding that was external to the normal budgets of the universities and federal laboratories. In climate science, this meant portraying the issue in dire terms, often in alliance with environmental advocacy organizations. Predictably, scientists (and their institutions) became addicted to the wealth, fame, and travel in the front of the airplane: 
“A new and rewarding research lifestyle emerged which involved the giving of advice to all types and levels of government, the broadcasting of unchallengeable opinion to the general public, and easy justification for attendance at international conferences—this last in some luxury by normal scientific experience, and at a frequency previously unheard of.” 
Every incentive reinforced this behavior, as the self-selected community of climate boffins now began to speak for both science and in the service of drastic regulatory policies. In the measured tones of the remarkably lucid and precise writer that he is, Paltridge explains how the corner got painted: 
“The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the Royal Society in the UK, the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and the Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations. In effect, the academies, which are the most prestigious of the institutions of science, formally nailed their colours to the mast of the politically correct. 
Since that time three or four years ago, there has been no comfortable way for the scientific community to raise the spectre of serious uncertainty about the forecasts of climatic disaster.” 
Every year that elapses without a significant warming trend more and more erodes the credibility of not just climate science, but science in general...
The global warming hoax is revealing science as a corrupt claque of government contractors who lie, cheat and steal to keep the public money flowing. It is not only the corruption itself that is outrageous; the silence of the scientists who are not themselves part of the cabal is damning as well.

 Michaels concludes:
When the climate science tsunami breaks the shore, the destruction will be massive and universal... Scientists, run for cover. Now.
The long-overdue backlash against corrupt science is already starting. There will be more cuts, and these cuts should be aimed at scientific disciplines corrupted by graft and ideology-- climate science, environmental science, and evolutionary biology are obvious places to start.

Defund the bastards, and they'll scurry like cockroaches. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Cancer cases rising at an alarming rate worldwide"

From NPR:
As countries modernize around the world, they're increasingly being hit with one of the curses of wealth: cancer. 
There are about 14 million new cancer cases globally each year, the World Health Organization reported Monday. And the trend is only getting worse. 
The global burden of cancer will grow by 70 percent over the next two decades, the WHO predicts, with an estimated 22 million new cases and 13 million deaths each year by 2032. 
The majority of cases now occur in low- and middle-income countries, the agency found. Many of these nations' health care systems are ill-equipped to deal with the flood of complicated conditions that go along with disease. 
Cancer in the developing world is a "time bomb," says Dr. Bernard Stewart, an epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, who helped edit the WHO report. The problem, Stewart says, is that treatment availability for cancer hasn't kept up with the rise in its prevalence. 
The long-held idea that cancer is a disease that affects primarily rich countries is slowly being undermined. You're still more likely to get cancer if you live in a wealthy country than if you live in a developing one. But you're more likely to die from the disease if you live in a poor country because cancer is often detected later in developing countries, and treatments are limited.
Many of the points made are perfectly valid-- it's important to develop effective and affordable ways of treating and preventing cancer, especially in poorer countries in which the extraordinarily expensive types of treatment we use in the rich nations of the world (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplants) are much more difficult to provide.

But we must be careful about the "cancer epidemic" meme. The fact is that the most important cause of cancer-- without rival-- is survival. Cancer is a disease of older people. It is rare in the young, but fairly common as we age. In developing countries, the cancer "rate" will naturally go up as the population ages-- as infant mortality is reduced, as better treatments for infectious diseases are employed. In addition, populations in some countries (e.g. China) are aging rapidly because of population control.

The cancer rate is very much a function of the age of a population. People in poor countries are living longer, and they are surviving long enough to get cancer. It is a mixed blessing. And in many poor countries, there are fewer children born, which markedly skews demographics to older cancer-prone people.

I have become so cynical about scientists lately-- the global warming fraud, Darwinist ideology posing as evolutionary biology, not to mention the historic frauds like eugenics and DDT hysteria-- that I wonder if this "cancer epidemic" press release is merely an effort by scientists to gin up funding for cancer research. There's always some new science crisis, and the new crisis always seems to require... wait for it... more money and power to scientists.

Yet cancer research is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, even if the crisis is hyped a bit, but I'm suspicious that the scientists aren't fessing up about the real cause for the "cancer epidemic", which is longer lifespans and aging populations in poor countries. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ham/Nye roundup

I watched most of the debate last night.

I thought Ham did quite well-- his strength was in showing the difference between observational/experimental science and historical science. YEC's do observational/experimental science just as atheists do.

If fact (I point out), atheists borrow Christian inferences (nature is rational, consistent,  natural laws exist, things reliably have causes, etc). The atheist inference to "everything came from nothing" and "nothing needs to have an ultimate cause" is a science-killer, obviously. Atheists must borrow from Christians even to begin to do science.

Ham was also very strong in pointing out that historical science is predicated on worldview, atheist no less than Christian.

Ham was more vague on his evidence for a young earth. As I've noted many times, I think the earth is old.

Nye was not impressive, in my view. He walked right into Ham's trap by focusing almost entirely on historical science, which Ham had already distinguished from observational/experimental science and had pointed out that historical science is predicated on worldview.

The remarkable thing is that an experienced science communicator couldn't trounce a young earth creationist pastor. And of course, Nye's bizarre metaphysics-- everything came from nothing, nothing has a purpose, nature manifests no evidence for intelligent design-- wasn't even a topic of the debate. Only Ham's creation beliefs were on the chopping block.

Ham did very well. He dissected the weaknesses in the atheist/Darwinian conflation of historical science (which is predicated very much on worldview) and observational and experimental science, which is much less dependent on worldview and in fact is done more effectively by inferring design and purpose in nature. Nye pointed to some facts of historical science (with which I mostly agree) but he was unimpressive and unfocused, despite the fact that he had a massive science establishment in his corner.

You get a clear sense from watching the debate why Darwinists don't want Darwin's creation myth questioned in schools, and why they go to court to censor any questions. The Darwinian creation myth won't even withstand the scrutiny of schoolchildren.

Atheists and Darwinists run like cowards from debates.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

You go Ken!

Tonight is the much anticipated debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Ham is a prominent Christian pastor with a background in applied science and is a young earth creationist. Nye is an atheist and a purveyor of children's television programs with a background in engineering.

Atheists of course are in a tizzy about the debate, because anyone who knows Ham and Nye understands that Ham will mop the floor with Nye. Nye is not a particularly bright or charismatic guy (redundancy alert: he's an atheist), and Ham is a very intelligent and accomplished communicator and pastor and who understands more about science than Nye ever will.

Unfortunately, many of my ID and Thomist friends have dissed Ham as well as Nye. I take a very different view.

I am not a young earth creationist. I differ with Ham on Biblical exegesis:  I don't think that a true  interpretation of Scripture requires belief in a young earth. I follow the mundane scientific evidence on the age of the earth, which indicates an earth that is five billion years old. I point out that Ham and I differ on interpretation of scripture more than we differ on science. Ham believes that proper interpretation of scripture requires a young earth, and he does his science accordingly. I believe that proper interpretation of scripture requires the prudent squaring of reason with revelation, and I do my science accordingly.

Yet Ham and I agree on so much. We both believe in God, believe that He created the Universe ex-nihilo, sustains it in existence moment by moment, created man, sent His Son to die for our sins, and so much more. Ham and I agree that Darwinists are lying morons and materialism is a mortal threat to our civilization. Ham and I agree that atheism is a disease of the soul even before it is a disease of the intellect.

So I politely point out to my ID and Thomist friends who take Ham to task: reality is not a true or false question; it is an essay question, and there's lots of partial credit.

Ham gets a 95% on the question of science and human origins, in my book. That's a damn good score.

You go, Ken! Wipe the floor with Nye. I'll be watching and enjoying. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Truth vortex descends on global warming

Please read the accompanying article here.

It seems the polar vortex, the frigid cold, just like warming, drought, hurricanes, yada--yada are all caused by... wait for it... global warming!

Run! Run! Run! The apocalypse is upon us!

The article accompanying the video claims that this scientific explanation will "shut down all of the climate-change deniers".


There's a glitch in the argument, astute readers may have noticed. The truth vortex descending on the global warming argument presented by the folks in the video is that we've had polar vorticies and regional warming and droughts and hurricanes without any global warming for seventeen years!


Note to global warming frauds: pointing to extreme weather as as symptom of global warming only makes sense if there has been global warming.

If there hasn't been global warming, then pointing to extreme weather makes a powerful case against the view that global warming causes extreme weather, because we now know that extreme weather happens without warming. Thus, even if warming happens again (it will eventually, of course-- temperature always fluctuates), we won't be able to link it to warming because warmists have already shown us that extreme weather happens without warming.

You may be thinking to yourself-- "My goodness, this video was made at Yale. Could these people really be that stupid?"

No, they can't. No one is that stupid.

The video is a propaganda video, to push an ideological agenda and gin up funding.

They're not mistaken. They're lying. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A.N. Wilson on the death of Christianity

A.N. Wilson lists the dire signs of collapse of Christianity in the West, and then notes:
The Gospel is hard, and it contains within it, not the fear but the absolute certainty, that persecution and misunderstanding will always follow in its wake. It is based on the idea of dying in order to live; of losing life in order to find it; of taking up the cross, that instrument of torture, and finding therein not merely life but glory. 
Yes, the hype and sentimentality surrounding the funeral of Nelson Mandela’s funeral were embarrassing, but at the core of it all was the central idea, embodied by a figure such as Archbishop Tutu, that it is possible to ignore the poison of hatred bubbling in your heart and forgive your enemies. The ANC, for long – yes – a terrorist organisation, changed its mind, and behaved, not like Jihadists, but like Christians. South Africa, riven as it is with every kind of human problem, got that thing right largely because Mandela in his prison years decided to risk all on what was a fundamentally Christian idea. 
Yes, the Arab Spring is the Christian Winter because there is no truth or reconciliation apparently at work in Israel-Palestine, nor in Iraq, nor in Syria… But the Christian writings, beginning as they do with a refugee mother and baby surrounded by invading armies, and ending with world conflict, the utter destruction of Jerusalem, and the coming
of apocalyptic death and plague, are not comfortable. 
The paradox is that growing or shrinking numbers do not tell you anything. The Gospel would still be true even if no one believed it. The hopeful thing is that, where it is tried – where it is imperfectly and hesitantly followed – as it was in Northern Ireland during the peace process, as it is in many a Salvation Army hostel this Christmas, as it flickers in countless unseen Christian lives, it works. And its palpable and remarkable power to transform human life takes us to the position of believing that something very wonderful indeed began with the birth of Christ into the world.

"The Gospel would still be true even if no one believed it." The Gospel transforms lives. It transformed mine. It is the most powerful thing thing that ever entered the world. Even the ideologies that war against Christianity-- Islam, consumerism, communism, secularism, atheism-- are Christian heresies. But they will not, in the end, hold their gates against Christ.

Wilson is a marvelous writer. His God's Funeral is magnificent-- highly recommended (although sadly not yet available on Kindle). Wilson is a cradle Christian who sank into atheism for decades, and has now come back home to the Church. 

He has a particularly salient insight into the Gospel's power-- "It works."